World Cup: I Already Know My Super Eagles’ Final 23 Men – Keshi

KeshiThe Head Coach of the World Cup bound Super Eagles of Nigeria, Stephen Keshi, says he already had an idea of his final 23-man list to the global tournament in Brazil.

Keshi made this revelation on Friday after the team had their first training session at the Philadelphia Eagles Stadium in Philadelphia, United States.

The world football governing body, FIFA, had set Monday June 2 as the deadline for all participating teams to submit their final list and Keshi said that he was willing to take full advantage of the time left by only revealing his list on the said date.

The Media Officer of the Senior National Team, Ben Alaiya, was said to have quoted Keshi saying, “I have an idea of those who will go with us to Brazil but we will still wait till the last minute before we announce the list.”

This deliberate delay, according to the Big Boss, would enable him do double checks on the list and the possibility of finding those who may not measure up when hostilities start in Brazil.

While expressing satisfaction at the fitness and tactical readiness of his team, Keshi noted that there was a need to be cautious.

The Super Eagles played out a 2-2 draw with Scotland in an earlier played warm up match and would be squaring up against 2004 European Champions, Greece, as well as the USA.

The FIFA World Cup, Brazil 2014, kicks off – amidst protests by citizens over monies spent – on June 12 and ends on July 13, 2014.

Nigeria has been placed in Group F alongside South American football giant, Argentina; Iran and debutant, Bosnia & Herzegovina, who boast of the most potent attack of all teams at the tournament en route qualification.

Germany Sees Surge In Immigration From Crisis-hit Europe

An influx of people from crisis-hit southern European countries like Spain, Italy and Greece has led to the biggest surge in German immigration in nearly 20 years.

The Federal Statistics Office said 1.081 million immigrants flocked to Germany last year, up 13 percent from 2011 and the highest number since 1995.

Leading the way were arrivals from countries in eastern Europe and from southern euro zone countries struggling with recession and high unemployment as a result of the currency bloc’s three-year old debt crisis.

The number of immigrants coming from Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy rose by 40 percent or more compared to the prior year.

“The rise in immigration from EU countries hit by the financial and debt crisis is particularly strong,” the Statistics Office said.

Germany has been a rare pillar of strength during the crisis, benefitting from deep structural reforms introduced a decade ago, competitive small-and-medium sized companies and record low interest rates resulting from its status as a safe haven.

Unemployment, at 6.9 percent, is hovering just above a post-reunification low. By contrast, more than one in four workers in Spain and Greece are without a job, and youth unemployment in these countries is close to 60 percent.

This has made Germany, Europe’s largest economy, an increasingly attractive destination, despite barriers like the language.

Still, the numbers from southern Europe remain fairly small in total terms compared to those from the east.

A total of 34,109 people came from Greece and 29,910 from Spain in 2012. That compared to 176,367 from Poland and 116,154 from Romania.

Euro Zone Economy Falls Deeper Into Recession

The euro zone slipped deeper into recession in the last three months of 2012 after its largest economies, Germany and France, shrank markedly at the end of the year.

It marked the currency bloc’s first full year in which no quarter produced growth, extending back to 1995.

Economic output in the 17-country region fell by 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Thursday, following a 0.1 percent drop in output in the third quarter.

The drop was the steepest since the first quarter of 2009 and more severe than the average forecast of a 0.4 percent drop in a Reuters poll of 61 economists.

For the year as a whole, gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.5 percent.

Within the zone, only Estonia and Slovakia grew in the last quarter of the year, although there are no figures available yet for Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia.

The big economies set the tone.

Germany contracted by 0.6 percent on the quarter, official data showed, marking its worst performance since the global financial crisis was raging in 2009.

France’s 0.3 percent fall was also slightly worse than expectations.

Worryingly for Berlin, it was export performance – the motor of its economy – that did most of the damage although economists expect it to bounce back quickly.

“In the final quarter of 2012 exports of goods declined significantly more than imports of goods,” the German Statistics Office said in a statement.

The euro hit a session low against the dollar after the weaker than forecast German reading and dropped again after the release of full euro zone figures.

Back revisions to the French figures showed its output fell by 0.1 percent in each of the first and second quarters of 2012, meaning the country has already experienced one bout of recession in the last twelve months.

While the European Central Bank’s pledge to do whatever it takes to save the euro has taken the heat out of the bloc’s debt crisis, even its stronger members are gripped by an economic malaise that could push debt-cutting drives off track.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that weak growth was putting his government’s deficit goal for 2013 out of reach.

Economists say the euro zone may also shrink in the first quarter of 2013 although more resilient Germany is expected to rebound.

“The chances that the (German) economy will return to growth at the beginning of this year are very good. The early indicators are all pointing upwards,” said Andrea Rees, chief German economist at UniCredit.

“The question is how strong the first quarter will be. We expect growth of 0.3 percent but it could be more.”

Dutch GDP dropped 0.2 percent over the quarter, keeping it in recession, while the Austrian economy shrank at the same rate.


For the more embattled members of the currency bloc, matters are of course worse.

Italy suffered its sixth successive quarterly fall in GDP – this time by a sharp 0.9 percent – putting it into a longer slump than it suffered in 2008/2009.

Its recession has been deepened by austerity measures that outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti introduced to stave off a debt crisis.

With an election due on February 24/25, all sides in a three-way race between Monti’s centrist bloc, Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left coalition and Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right are pledging to cut taxes to try to kickstart economic growth.

Spain, the euro zone’s fourth largest economy, released figures two weeks ago which showed it remained deep in recession after a 0.7 percent contraction in the fourth quarter.

Madrid is also pressing on with harsh austerity measures to cut its debt but may be given more time to meet its deficit targets by the European Commission if its economy worsens further.

There are signs that countries like Spain are starting to benefit from harsh internal devaluations – marked by wage falls and job losses aimed at making companies leaner and more productive.

The ECB predicts the euro zone will pick up later in the year although its currency, if it keeps strengthening, could quickly snuff out any of those hard-won competitive advantages for its high debt members.

More recent data for January have already suggested some upturn in the first months of 2013, in the bloc’s stronger members at least, and if improvement comes it is likely to be seen in Germany first.

“The debt crisis has ebbed significantly and the global economy has turned up,” said Joerg Kraemer at Commerzbank. “Therefore all the important early indicators for Germany are pointing upwards. I expect noticeable economic growth again in the first quarter.”


Greece lawmakers back austerity cuts

153 lawmakers in Greece have narrowly backed a fresh round of austerity measures aimed at securing the next round of bailout funds despite violent protests across the country.

The bill which includes tax rises and pension cuts is about 13.5 billion Euros and must be revised before Eurozone finance ministers meet next week to approve 31.5bn euros in fresh loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Before the vote on Wednesday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras warned that without the bailout Greece would run out of money this month and face “catastrophe”.

The austerity package – Greece’s fourth in three years – is meant to close the nation’s budget deficit, lower its huge debt burden and make its economy more competitive.

MPs must now pass a revised budget on Sunday before Eurozone finance ministers meet next week to approve 31.5bn Euros in fresh loans from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Greece needs to avoid imminent bankruptcy.

But the level of resistance on the streets is a reminder that implementing the latest tough measures will be extraordinarily difficult.

Nigeria Muslim anti-film protests continues

Muslims protested in Nigeria on Sunday to show anti-Western anger against a film and cartoons insulting Islam had not dissipated.

As delegates from around the world gathered in New York for a U.N. General Assembly where the clash between free speech and blasphemy is bound to be raised, U.S. flags were once again burning in parts of the Muslim world.

Shi’ite Muslims in Katsina burned U.S, French and Israeli flags and a religious leader called for protests to continue until the makers of the film and cartoons are punished.

In Pakistan, where fifteen people were killed in protests on Friday, a government minister has offered $100,000 to anyone who kills the maker of the short, amateurish video “The Innocence of Muslims”. Calls have increased for a U.N. measure outlawing insults to Islam and blasphemy in general.

In Athens, some protesters hurled bottles of water, stones and shoes at police who responded with teargas. Calm returned when demonstrators interrupted the protest to pray.

Hours later, dozens of Muslim inmates in Athens’ main prison set mattresses and bed sheets on fire in protest. Firemen with four engines battled the flames in some cells but police and government officials said late at night the situation was under control.

Avraam Papadopoulos ruled out of EURO 2012

The central defender for the Greece, Avraam Papadopoulos has been ruled out of the European championship 2012 which started in Thursday with his country playing the opening game with co-host country Poland, a game that ended in a draw.

It was during Friday’s game that Papadopoulos was sown on-field getting medical treatment after being injured in Warsaw stadium and he was helped off the pitch in the 37th minute after what initially appeared to be a harmless challenge from Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in the Group A game.

The team doctor has confirmed that the central defender will be missing the rest of the European Championship after picking up a ligament injury to his left leg and the 27-year-old was due to fly back to Greece later in the day.

The Olympiakos defender played a key role in Greece’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 will be solely missed for experienced defensive play, a notable advantage for Greece in the EURO 2012 tournament.

EURO 2012 Opener: Poland draws Greece in group A

With the opening ceremony of the EURO 2012 tournament over with, co-hosts Poland after making their fears public over the clash against Greece eventually ran off with a 1-1 scoreline against the Greeks in the first and opening match of the European championship.

Fortunately for Poland, Robert Lewandowski’s opener pushed the co-hosts up but was cancelled with Greece substitute Dimitris Salpingidis’s second half goal.

Poland had another opportunity to make 2-1 with a Giorgos Karagounis penalty but he missed it and forced the 2004 continental champions to settle for a draw.

Both sides faced blood from the referee as they ended the game with one red card each as Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Wojciech Szczesny were dismissed at the National Stadium.

Poland started brightly, as Rafal Murawski’s shot forced a sharp save from goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias five minutes in.

Franciszek Smuda’s men continued to press and took the lead through Lewandowski in the 17th minute. The Borussia Dortmund striker headed home a telling right-wing cross from Jakub Blaszczykowski.

At the other end, Kostas Katsouranis looked dangerous in the final third but Poland’s defence held firm.

Greece then suffered a setback when Papastathopoulos received his second caution for a challenge on Murawski in the 45th minute.

Greece was the better outfit in the latter stages but was unable to make their dominance count.

The recession hit-nation, however, equalised six minutes in to the second period. Salpingidis, a replacement for Sotiris Ninis, netted from close range after keeper Szczesny failed to collect a right-wing cross by Vassilis Torosidis.

Szczesny’s night was to get worse, as the Arsenal man was sent off in the 69th minute for bringing down the lively Salpingidis in the Poland box.

Smuda immediately brought on Przemyslaw Tyton in place of Maciej Rybus, with the reserve stopper saving Karagounis’s penalty with his first touch of the game.

Soon after Salpingidis had an effort ruled out for offside following a cross by Kostas Fortounis.

EURO 2012: Poland wary of Greek defense

Coach and captain of the Polish national team, Franciszek Smuda and Kuba Blaszczykowski, have both confessed that the defense of the Greek team is a major worry for them ahead of the opening match of the EURO 2012 on Friday.

According to the coach, they believe the Greek’s tactic from back to front is purely defensive in play.

one the co-hosts of the much awaited EURO 2012 tournaments spoke up today on what worries them they clash with Greece as the tournament opens today.#

Coach Smuda, admitted that the ironclad defense of Greece will be a hard nut to crack.

He said this while the team was having their training in Warsaw National Stadium where the first clash of the tournament will hold. He said their strong point is their style of play as it is defensive-minded.

On the part of the captain, Blaszczykowski admitted that the Greeks will introduce a defensive style of play but went further, saying a breach can always be created as his own team can boast players who can achieve that for Poland.

Greece went into the EURO 2012 finals without any defeat against all the teams they clashed during the qualifiers, scoring 14 goals and conceding 5 goals in the process.

It was thought to be a relief by Polish fans after the draw was done and they were not drawn in the group of Germany, the 2008 EURO finalists-Spain.

The performance of the Polish team is however unsure having failed to reach the 2010 World Cup, they have relied on friendly matches for 968 days in preparation for Euro 2012 with the squad with an average age of 25, the pressure is on for the young squad to reach and surpass older squads as they are on paper as the weakest team at the 16-nation European championship, hosted with neighboring Ukraine, and as hosts did not have to come through qualifying.

Smuda reiterated that his basic target is to make it out of Group A, which also includes Russia and the Czech Republic.